No plan to propose interim govt model

On returning to the Jatiya Sangsad, the BNP-led opposition is very likely to demand a restoration of the caretaker government system rather than propose a new model for a non-partisan election-time government, which the ruling party had been asking for.

Opposition parliament members belonging to the BNP, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and Bangladesh Jatiya Party are expected to join the House today after staying away from it for 78 consecutive sittings since March last year.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her colleagues in the cabinet and the Awami League have been rejecting the opposition's demand for a restoration of the caretaker government system. They had been asking the opposition to return to the Sangsad and place their ideas on how the next general elections could be held.

"We have been eagerly waiting for the moment when the opposition will turn up in the House and submit an alternative proposal regarding the next parliamentary polls," ruling Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam said yesterday after placing wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu in Dhanmondi to mark the leader's 92nd birth anniversary.

However, BNP leader Moudud Ahmed said, "We are not going to place any formula or proposal in parliament on an interim government. Rather, we will raise our voice to press home the demand for a restoration of the caretaker government system, which was scrapped unilaterally by the government."

The Supreme Court in May last year delivered a verdict to the effect that the caretaker government system was illegal but it did say that two more general elections could be held under the system for the sake of public safety. The parliament, devoid of opposition members, abolished the system a month later by amending the constitution.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Moudud, a member of the BNP national standing committee, also said the opposition would not accept any alternative to this demand. He was hinting at some government policymakers recently making statements regarding the formation of an interim government headed by the incumbent prime minister.

Before the BNP's grand rally on March 12, it was widely assumed that the BNP chief would unveil a model for a non-partisan caretaker government at the rally. But the opposition leader did not do so. She rather served a 90-day ultimatum on the government for a restoration of the caretaker government system.

Moudud said Khaleda today or in the next few days would speak in the House explaining the party's stance on the caretaker government issue and the government's "failure" to keep its electoral promises.

On their return to the House, the opposition MPs will also speak on some issues, particularly price hike of essentials, law and order, stock market crash, border killings and the Tipaimukh dam.

"We are ready to join the House [today] and speak on various important issues," Andaleeve Rahman Partha, chief of Bangladesh Jatiya Party, a component of the BNP-led four party alliance, told The Daily Star.

The opposition MPs could have stayed away from parliamentary proceedings until the current session ended as they are yet to face the risk of losing their membership. It is certain that the Sangsad's current session would not have 22 more sittings to put their membership in jeopardy.

But the situation is different for Khaleda Zia. She has been absent from House proceedings for 83 consecutive sittings and the current session may have seven more sittings which could put her membership at stake.

LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam yesterday alleged that the opposition MPs were returning to the House to keep their remunerations and allowances flowing in. The opposition MPs have been enjoying their remunerations and other facilities without attending parliament sessions. If they do not join parliament now, they will not receive their remunerations, he said.

Moudud Ahmed said the opposition would return to the House to protest the "government's misrule" and speak for the people. "We have been speaking in the people's interest on the streets. Now we will speak for them in the House," he claimed.

The BNP parliamentary party is scheduled to sit at 4:00pm today to discuss the opposition's return to the House, which resumes its sitting an hour later.

The BNP high command has already asked party deputies to prepare to launch a blistering attack on the government in parliament over what it called the government's failure to run the country.

"We are prepared to raise our voice to protest the government's poor performance in running the country in the last three years," BNP MP Nazrul Islam Manju told The Daily Star yesterday.

News Source: 
The Daily Star